Saturday, 29 November 2014

RSC14 - Last Week of November

Today is the last Saturday of November, and officially the last day of the light blues.   I have little to show off this week.  All I have done are 2 little Jacobs Ladder blocks.. 
 
 
The colour looks shot in this photo.  Everything looks tinged with yellow.  I took the photo outside this time, thinking that the natural light would end u with a better photo.  Didn't work did it!
 
Pretty much every month this year I started with the two easiest blocks, and there are several months when I never got done the two more complex patterns.  So this month I decided to start with the most difficult blocks. 
 
December will be reconciliation month catching up on all the blocks I didn't get done.  I probably won't get the tops done until after Christmas.
 
The rest of the gang are showing of their pale blue creations at soscrappy.  Why not check out what's been done?
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Santa Sack Swap

Earlier this year I signed up to the Santa Sack Swap run by the lovely Cheryll, who blogs at Gone Stitchin' 
 
 
You sign up in June and you have a little over 5 months to produce 5 gifts plus either a Santa sack, a tote or a Christmas stocking.  Cheryll matches each participant with another and you get to know them over the time you have to sew for them.
 
My swap buddy was Barb, who blogs here at Barb's Creations. 
 
I got all the gifts wrapped for Barb and ready to post on Monday.  Here is my little pile just before I put it in the post pack.
 
 
We aren't allowed to open the gifts until Cheryll tells us we can, or Christmas Day, if we can hold out that long.  LOL.  So I can't show you what I made for Barb, until after she has opened hers.
 
Still on the Christmas theme, I got an early phone call on Monday to ask if Miss 8 could come by on the way to school because "she had something to show me". 
 
Look at what came in the door!!

 
There's spools of thread, tape measures, scissors, thimble, pins, pin cushion, buttons and a bobbin on this little tree.  Plus there is a set of fairy lights which light up when you turn them on.  Miss 8 had created it over the weekend, and she found the idea was on Freebies for Crafters.
 
All I can say is: Awesome!!  Isn't it great??
 
It will be my table centrepiece for Christmas.

So this afternoon, I came home from having my hair cut and found my swap parcel from Barb.  Here is what was in the box:

 
What better place to put it, but where the Christmas tree will be when I get around to erecting it?  And my little tree went to join the parcels.

 
I plan to wait until Christmas Day to open mine.  I actually already have my Christmas gift from the Dearly Beloved, so these will be the only gifts for me under the tree this year.
 
We are flying to Queensland tomorrow to represent the Central Coast in the finals of the Grand National Open Teams (bridge).  There are apparently 64 teams playing this year, from all over Australia.  Wish me luck!!  Not sure when you'll hear from me next as the play days are long and pretty full on.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Farewell HMAS Success

On Sunday, five of us representing Aussie Hero Quilts farewelled the HMAS Success on its 6 month deployment in the Middle East.

It was a day of many impressions. 

Sadness.... families.... pride.... sailors everywhere in their sparkling whites.... the medals flashing in the sunlight and if you were in the wrong place, bright enough to blind you momentarily.... kids everywhere.... family groups taking that last photo.... a young girl standing quietly clinging to her boyfriend, the tears sliding silently down her cheek, knowing she won't see him for many months.

We were met by the ship's Warrant Officer.


Dasha, Gail, WO, Caroline & Evelyn
The WO brought the captain and several recipients and would be recipients to us for us to meet and greet.


The public were allowed to go on board so I went up to see what it was like on board.  It is Spartan - not like your usual cruise ship.

 
The tiny helicopter on board.
 
 
Then it was time for the official speeches.  Can you see the 5 Cormorants on the hawser completely oblivious to the proceedings?
 
Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, CSC and Bar, RAN
Then it was time to leave and the crew went on board single file.
 
 
And lined up on all the decks until departure....
 
 
 
the gang plank being lifted by the crane (why did I think the gang plank lived on the ship?)....


The brass band (with all the members in their pristine whites having stood in the blazing sun in 40C heat) playing the Australian Anthem....
 
 
while the hawsers were drawn back onto the vessel and the tugs began to pull it out into the harbour....
 
 
And she was away, with much waving and more tears flowing....
 
 
 
 
I knew no one on board, but standing there watching her go, I got a distinct lump in my throat.  Can't imagine how hard it would be for the loved ones standing on that wharf.
 
Contrast of the Success sailing out of the harbour and the James Craig passing Fort Denison directly behind it in its wake....

 
On the way back to the car, we passed HMAS Canberra, which was moored behind Success and is very much bigger than her.   I felt like a midget standing on that wharf below it.


An emotional day for many people, and an honour to have been invited to be part of it. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Biscornu

A biscornu (bee-ss-corn-uh) is a small, 8-sided, stuffed ornamental pincushion, usually made out of Aida cloth or linen. Embroidery or cross-stitch is used to decorate the top and bottom, and beads or tassels are often used to embellish it.
 
I discovered them in a blog post on line about a year ago.  Can't remember where of course.  Then my friend Jan showed us how to make one back mid-year at Buttons, the craft group that meets in my church on Wednesday mornings.  This is what I made.  Sorry, can't tell you the thread used as I borrowed the spool from Jan.  It is a gorgeous iridescent blue rayon machine embroidery thread.
 
Top

Base & sides

I am now officially hooked.  I have always enjoyed embroidery, and this is so dainty and pretty.  Since the first biscornu, I have made 2 more, one of which I can't show you as it is secret sewing and I know that the friend who is getting it reads my blog sometimes.

This one is a free pattern from Rainburst Embroidery.  The pattern has two designs in the one document, and this is the first of them.  I chose not to put a bead in the top of this one.  Embroidery on even weave linen using a variegated machine embroidery thread - Wonderfil Accent 12wt ACM-36

 
This one caused me some grief.  The linen I used was very soft and draped, so there was no body to it.  I found it hard to work with, and it would have been better had I used a hoop, but as the fabric was an off cut of a previous cross stitch, it wasn't large enough to put in my hoop. The thread I used was perhaps not the perfect option either, even though it is an absolutely gorgeous thread.  Being variegated, the lighter yellows don't show up well on the grey fabric.  Oh well, lesson learnt.
 
This is the second pattern from Rainburst Embroidery, and is the one on which I am currently working.  It is on cream even weave (again an off cut) and I have used a DMC rayon embroidery floss No. 30501.  I have completed the top.

 
And need to finish the back.  I am planning a simplified version of the design used on the top, and will only be doing the corner motifs. 

 
I plan to do some beading on the top only, and put a bead in the centre of this biscornu.  I will post a photo of the finished biscornu when its done.
 
I have been buried up to my nose in accounts for over a week.  I so hate that!  Serve me right for procrastinating til it becomes an insurmountable task.  All done now, off to the accountant this afternoon. 

I also wanted to give a shout out to my lovely email followers.  Thank you for your support!!!  I rarely if ever get a comment from you, and so I never get to have a chat.  Every so often someone says to me "I saw that on your blog".  I heard that comment just a few days ago.  Got any idea what a kick that gives me to know that you take the time to read my ramblings??  So thank you.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

November is Pale Blue

in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

There were things I Need. To. Do...... 

There are a number of things which I Should. Have. Done...... 

But what did I do??

I made 8 little Road to Oklahoma blocks in pale blue......


Love this block.  I have made it in each colour that Angie has posted this year and it is so pretty in all the colours of the rainbow. 

I had such fun playing while making these, and found enough blue scraps to make one of the blocks in checks, spots & stripes.


and one with stars (and a few spots pretending to be stars)


and one with all florals


The rest were a mixture of all sorts.

Now do pop over here to see what the others have done this week in pale blue.

I have also realised that I have not told you about my wonderful new ruler.  It is a Bloc-Loc which I bought at the Darling Harbour Quilt Show this year, and you use it to trim up the half square triangle blocks.  The ruler is a 6.5" square, marked off with the measurements on each side, and it has a groove running across on the underside from one corner, diagonally across to the other, top right to bottom left.  Can you see the groove in this photo?


(sorry about the reflection from the window)

The groove locks neatly onto the little bump made by the seam line, and you trim off the top and right side.

Then you twist the ruler, with the square still locked into the groove, right around and line up the previously cut neat corner at the bottom edge, on the measurement you need.  In my case this was 3.5".  And then you can trim off the excess. 



So, so simple.  Makes the trimming process so quick and really easy.  And I haven't been paid for this plug!  LOL

Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Working on Susan's Quilt

I have been making some (slow) progress on Susan's quilt.  I first told you about it here and here.
 
At first glance it looks pretty simple to construct.  Two circles on a background made up of a pair of half square triangles.  Not so. 
 
Firstly you need to trace and cut out the Vliesofix circles.
 
 
I decided to be a bit tricky here.  A full 8" circle of Vliesofix, and then one at 5.5" is a bit wasteful when you think of it, when all you need is to fix the outer edge while you sew it down.  So I drew one circle within the other, and a smaller circle still which I have saved for the next time I want to do applique.  All of that takes up a surprising amount of time.
 
Then you need to make up the strip sets.  36 of them at 8.5" and then another 36 at 6.5".  Thankfully, I was able to fish out a huge number of the strips I needed for the strip sets from my scrap system, so not a lot of cutting needed for them.
 
 
Then there is the fixing of the Vliesofix circles on them, and the cutting them out, and then fixing all 72 of those circles on the background with the iron.  And all of this before you actually do anything to show for your efforts!  Here is a batch of circles I was working with this afternoon, ready to go onto the background.
 
 
And one of the blocks I was doing this afternoon. 

 
The applique is actually the quickest part of the entire process.  I have now done about half of the blocks.  The buttonhole stitch on the Bernina is a nice one, and I am really happy with the results.
 
Tonight I am watching television and cutting the last of the circles from the Vliesofixed strip sets.  Hope to get a bit more sewing time tomorrow.
 
Earlier this morning I had to stop off at Aldi for a few supplies; and parked next to these guys.  They didn't flinch as my car drove up to the spot next to them.  The rest of the car park was pretty full!

 
But someone must have wanted that space, because when I came out of the store, they were milling about quacking indignantly.  They were very cross to have been disturbed.  Too funny.

 
Love it!  Where else in the world do ducks have priority over cars??  Do you get visitors like that in your part of the world?
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Remembrance Day 2014

Today is 11 November and therefore Remembrance Day.  I would like to share some photos with you.

 
Lt. Commander Jack ("Pancho") Brandt, MBE, DFC. Commissioned RAF (Acting Pilot Officer) 1937. Awarded DFC 1942 for action in Burma. Evaded capture in occupied France after being shot down 1944. Between 1937-67 flew 61 different types of aircraft from open cockpits to supersonic and helicopters. Died Sussex 1999.
 
My father's younger brother and identical twin of Sidney Brandt.
It was an honour to have known Jack.

 
Flt Lt Sidney Brandt. Served in the 249 Squadron RAF during WWII. Shot down over Malta 29 Dec 1941, aged 25.
 
My father's younger brother, and twin brother of Jack.

Long gone, but not forgotten.
 
 
William Roy Young. Member of the Australian Coronation Cadet Contingent to the Coronation of King George V. Enlisted in the AIF as a Gunner. Wounded Ypres, Belgium, and died aged 21 on 17 October 1917.  Buried The Huts Cemetery, Dickebusch, Belgium.
 
My dearly beloved's great-uncle.  Known to all as Uncle Bill.

Lest We Forget.
 
Our family is no exception.  Many, many families in many countries lost their husbands, sons, brothers.  We were lucky - my Uncle Jack returned.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Friday Night with Friends (FNwF)

Although I have watched heaps of times, I have never actually joined in with FNwF which Cheryll hosts at Gone Stitchin'


So having linked up, I need to write a Post!

See these squares? 

 
I need to draw a diagonal line across each of the 20 cream and 64 salmon squares.  I am making a quilt for a lady (paid job!  Woop, Woop!).  The pink squares will be the squares on a snowball block, the cream ones are going into a friendship star block.  I cut all the fabric and made test blocks up for the two blocks this morning at Friday Quilters.

 
If I finish before I fall asleep, I would like to also make some progress on the latest Biscornu I am making.  The front is done, and I am doing the back at the moment.
 
On Wednesday night, there was a terrific storm about 7pm, just as I was cooking dinner.  I hoped that there would not be a power outage before that was finished, and we escaped that.  But Thursday morning we found this...
 
 
A big hole in the garage roof, which thankfully did not have the car in it.  This is the culprit...


The branch is over a meter long and about 4" in diameter.  Straight through the roof, knocking the light fitting to smithereens, but basically no other damage. Phew!

Now you've seen what I am doing, go check out what the others have planned here.

Dinner time, so, til next time.....keep on stitching.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A Useful Weekend

I didn't have much on this week end, so I got a few things done.

First up I got a couple of the brown blocks done for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I am soooo far behind!!  Still, these two got made before the clock ticked over to November.  The 25-Patch....

 
And the Road to Tennessee block...

 
The rest of the weekend I worked on Susan's quilt (name changed for privacy).  It was my second NewFO item from last month.  I talked about it here and here.
 
For this quilt I need to make 20 x 12" half square triangle background blocks and applique two circles created from strip sets onto each square.  I have made all the background squares, and all the strip sets for the larger circles.  This is as far as I have got in fixing the circles to the background. 


I still need to applique them into position, and I will do that by machine.

While making the half square triangles for the background, I came to realise just why some of the time my HSTs don't seem to end up the right size.  I generally do them by drawing the diagonal line, then stitching 1/4" each side of the drawn line.  Assuming that the original square is accurately cut, that should be relatively easy.  Yes?  Well no.  Sometimes when I go to check the result, the HST set is not square - usually too small.

This week I found out why.  This is the 1/4" foot on my big Bernina

 
And this is the 1/4" foot from my little Janome which I use when I sew out of the house e.g. at Friday Quilters.

 
Can you see the problem??  The two sides of this foot are different sizes, so when I sew with this foot on the right of the drawn line, it is NOT an accurate 1/4"!!!  I have only had this machine for 3 years and it has taken me this long to work it out.  Sigh.  That means that the HST units I have made on the Janome will never have turned out the right size.  Now that I am aware of it, I can compensate.
 
I have also pulled out the first ever quilt I made.  It is a hexagonal tablecloth in a diamond shaped log cabin block, and I made it in 1988.  It has sat in my linen closet all this time, because I didn't want to make a mess of it. 

 
Last week I bought some clear plastic and have that covering the tablecloth.  So the quilt can be used and it won't be spoilt by food spills.  But putting it on the table has highlighted all the terrible stitching!  You forget how bad you were as a beginner.

I also wanted to show you some little gathered round baskets I made over the last few weeks.  I have made 3, two are gifts and one is for me (on the right).  Now that they are home with their new owners, I can show you.  The third one got given away before I managed to photograph it, but you'll get the drift.


 
So easy to make!  I made the first one, loved it, so set to and immediately made another two.  I used the tutorial I found at a Spoonful of Sugar.
 
My naughty clever little Tibby has worked out how to open the linen press door..... 

 
So now I need to put a lock on that cupboard?  LOL
 
Today was Melbourne Cup day, also known as the "day a race stops a nation".  The hype is monumental, and literally everything goes dead at 3pm on the first Tuesday of November each year.  This year we went to a lunch at the Bridge Club.  We played a normal game of bridge, then moved over to have a sumptuous feast provided by the Leagues Club. 
 
The decorations were fabulous.  The theme was blue & white.  Each table had a centre piece with blue napery and white flowers, and each table setting had a cardboard cutouts of horse & rider.  The horses had names on them of previous years' winners.  Apologies for the truly shoddy photo taken on my phone.
 
 
We were encouraged to dress up and to wear a hat, so some very smart outfits.  And we had sweeps - you buy a ticket and have a horse allocated to you randomly.  Prizes for 1st, 2nd & 3rd.  One of my horses came in 2nd, so I won the princely sum of $16.  Not bad!  Did you have a Melbourne Cup winner today?  Needless to say, after the big lunch and an odd glass of bubbles, there was no sewing done this afternoon!
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching